I care a lot about the gospel. I love it when people come to know Christ. I get pretty excited when it's obvious that God is working in people's lives. And it's not just because I'm a professional religious guy- pastor, missionary, etc. I really do believe that Jesus is the answer. The answer to...well, pretty much everything.
But then I read Philippians, and I wonder if I really care THAT much. Look at what he says starting in 1:12- "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly". In other words, he's saying, "I'm glad to be in chains...in prison...because it's advancing the gospel." Not "I'm willing"... He's GLAD!! I'm not sure I care that much...
Then he says, some people "are trying to stir up trouble for me while I'm in chains". But he DOESN'T CARE, as long as Christ is preached. Honestly, I don't like when I feel that people are trying to mess with me behind my back. I'm not sure that I could say, "no problem, as long as it helps people to hear about Jesus".
I don't sound very spiritual, do I? Just being honest. How about you?
Wait...it gets even MORE crazy. In verses 20-26, he takes it even farther. My summary of this: "If I die, I'm fine with that, as long as people see Jesus in it. If I stay alive and am imprisoned, tortured, beaten...I'm fine with it, as long as people see Jesus in it."
Christian history is filled with people who were willing to die for their faith. I admire that. But I'm not sure I care that much. I wish I did. In my overseas ministry, I meet Christians who have been imprisoned, beaten, and even threatened with death. Maybe I need some of that...but I don't honestly know how I would respond...how about you?
One more verse in this passage that shakes me- look at verse 29. "It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him". Did you catch that? "Granted to you" That's a word that implies a good thing. When an organization writes a grant, they're asking for something GOOD. Criminals hope to be "granted" a pardon. Paul says we've been "granted to suffer".
In my most spiritual moments, I think I MIGHT be willing to suffer...but I'm not sure I'd ever see it as a "grant". Hmm....
How about you?